The 1904 Olmsted plan (Uh. John Charles Olmsted and Fredrick Law Olmsted, Jr.? As in sons of Fredrick Law Olmsted? As in Central Park Fredrick Law Olmsted? Now you’ve got it!) envisioned connecting parkways and boulevards in a loop around Portland. The Springwater Corridor‘s 21 mile trail through southeast Portland from the Eastbank Esplanade to Boring was inspired by and a partial realization of that plan.
The majority of the Springwater Corridor is off-street multi-use path, so perfect for those travelling on two feet, walking with a four-legged type, or riding on two wheels. The route is exceptionally scenic, cutting through wetlands, buttes, pastures, as well as residential and industrial neighborhoods. It notably criss-crosses over Johnson Creek, which is one of the last free-flowing streams in Portland’s urban area. The Corridor connects several parks and open spaces including the I-205 Bike Path, Leach Botanical Garden, Powell Butte Nature Park, and many more. Just think – you can get to all this without a car!
The Springwater Corridor is a former rail corridor, the Springwater Division Line, developed for rail service in 1903. By 1910, the company had 161 miles of rail and was carrying 16,000 passengers each year on a citywide system. In addition to passengers, the rail hauled farm produce to Portland markets.
Many communities that are now Portland neighborhoods developed along the Springwater Line, like Sellwood, Eastmoreland, Woodstock, and Lents. Towns like Milwaukie, Gresham, Boring, and Estacada also grew because of the line. To encourage weekend use, the railroad developed destination parks along the line, such as Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood. Passenger service was discontinued in 1958.
Much of Springwater Corridor was acquired by the City of Portland in 1990, with additional acquisitions by Metro in the subsequent years. Construction of the initial Portland segment was completed September 1996. Since that time, miles and miles have been added to the trail.
On any given weekend you will see joggers, families, and serious cyclists making use of the Springwater Corridor. The Springwater, in it’s second incarnation, continues to provide an important connection between Portland and outlying communities – bringing us all just a little closer together. The corridor helps to make nature more accessible to urban dwellers. Perhaps most importantly, the trail gets us cloud-dwellers outside! The only thing left to do is get on your bikes and ride.